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Worth Restoring? 1936 Ford 5-Window Coupe

In early Fords, body style is everything when it comes to desirability.  Open cars are still the most sought after interation of prewar Fords.  However, with the popularity of touring and the security that overnight trips require, coupe body styles have taken off in value.  Take for example this 1936 Ford five window coupe being sold on eBay out of Blountville, Tennessee.  While three window 1935-36 coupes are seen as the coupe to have due to their gorgeous styling, five windows have many fans as well.  With bidding at $8,150 for a coupe that has neither an engine or a transmission and needs a complete restoration, would you be willing to sink a lot of money into what many think is a perfect touring car?

This week, the Hemmings Great Race is making its way from Riverside, California to Tacoma, Washington.  This timed distance rally is the one to win among enthusiasts of this type of event.  Every year there are a handful of Ford coupes of this vintage that are always among the leaders.  Speaking to one of the competitors last year, he said that the lightweight, predictable handling, V-8 power, and the comfort of these coupes makes them good “race” cars.  Another advantage would be the ventilation provided by the windshield, which tips out at the bottom, and by the back glass, which rolls down.

Tis 1936 Ford coupe has both good and bad points.  On the good side, the car is relatively all there if you aren’t looking for the engine and transmission.  There are some dings and dents in the body panels.  However, there is not much that couldn’t be repaired by a home restorer before painting.  It also appears that the car has benefitted from shed living for at least some time.  Little parts like handles and gauges are present, and there are clues that a heater might still be under the dash.

The bad news is that the roof insert has rotted away, along with some of the interior.  We are also told by the seller that the new owner should plan on replacing the floor.  The front section is rough, and the transmission cover is missing.  The back is patched, but the seller thinks it needs to go as well.  Add to your replacement list the rumble seat, and it looks like the lid for it might need some patching before everything is said and done.  Oh, add some glass and weather stripping as well.  Looking at the positives, the instruments, radio, and banjo steering wheel are still in the car.  The biggest question is in the pedal area.  Even though the picture is very dark, it looks like the round clutch and brake pedals are absent, and there is a large, rectangular pedal in their place.  Or are my eyes deceiving me?

The second picture of the interior shows the previously mentioned roll down, or twist down as the handle would require, rear window.  With the windshield wound out, cowl vent opened, back window rolled down, and the windows in the doors rolled down,  a tremendous amount of air to flow through the car.  Add to that some Dynamat to keep engine and exhaust heat from moving into the cabin, and you’d have about as cool an interior as you could get in a closed prewar car.  The package tray is also a great feature.  Lots of room for a cooler and some snacks for the trip.

In the engine compartment is the most dismal news of all: no engine or transmission.  There doesn’t seem to be a radiator either.  The good news is that the steering, suspension, and exhaust have managed to stay put.  The seller also tells us that the cowl is in great shape and has not been cut.  Facebook Marketplace and craigslist haven’t been short on running Flathead Ford engines and transmissions lately.  You might be able to replace the missing components with a useable engine and transmission for around $1,000 if you are patient and look hard enough.  It won’t be an H and H Flatheads blown motor with all the goodies, but I’ll bet you’d get down the road just fine with a used motor.

All and all, the car looks worse than it really is.  Floor pans can be replaced if you are careful and willing to do the work needed to make the job come out right.  You might want to replace the mechanical brakes still on the car with later Ford hydraulics as well.  The rest of the car would need a full restoration, which wouldn’t be cheap.  Just take a look at some of the websites selling Ford reproduction parts.  As we are reminded by the readers, you shouldn’t expect to go into a restoration and come out ahead financially.  With this car, I would agree.  This would be a keeper if restored right, and the many days of fun you would have behind the wheel would likely make you forget about all the money it took to get to that point.

Do you think restoring this coupe is worth the expense and time?  What would you do with it when you were done?


  1. dirtyharry

    I have to say NO. It isn’t worth it “financially,” unless you own a body shop and can fit it in here and there. You will be upside down financially. But I do a lot things that don’t make financial sense. I have been married twice, had a lot of kids and keep hoarding projects that are just stacking up at this point. My eyes are too big and my hands are too slow. So it is certainly worth it, if you want a real 36, made from prewar steel instead of a copy.

    Like 7
  2. geomechs geomechs Member

    A coupe is definitely worth a restoration. Of course, being minus the engine and transmission gives you some options. Myself I would try to find the proper engine although I wouldn’t be immune to installing a newer flathead. I might even be tempted to drop in the ’53 Mercury engine I’ve got out in the shop. The price it’s currently at plus the cost of restoring would certainly put a cap on my budget but if someone else thinks it’s worth it, go for it. It deserves a second chance…

    Like 3
    • canadainmarkseh

      I get the whole return on your investments, but money is a funny thing hard to come by easy to lose. So I guess you need to ask yours why do I want it? So now when we spend $100 at the movies we know we’re not coming out ahead before we even go in. As for this cars we also go in not expecting a return but there’s still something we want and that is something unique something that separates us from the herd. We live in an overpopulated world with massive over production, everything is the same on an industrial scale. there is no room in our world to be ours selves. This is way it is worth it to build up this car it becomes our small token of vanity. We want to cruise down the road and have everyone around us giving us the thumbs. So in the end it’s all about our wants and desires and most importantly what are we willing to sacrifice to get them.

      Like 5
      • geomechs geomechs Member

        Restoration is always about the journey. One seldom gets his investment back. The only ones who make money in restorations are the ones who restore other’s cars.

        Giving us the thumbs? You know when I’m cruising down a 2-lane blacktop in my ’49 I seem to get a lot of guys in import SUVs who ride up on my bumper and when we hit a passing zone they fly by like a cut cat (my dad was a veterinarian and I know how fast a cut cat can go). Those drivers always gave me the ‘thumbs;’ the middle ones…

        Like 2
  3. John S

    Here’s a perfect example of “the eye of the beholder” syndrome… First & foremost, this is a ’36 Ford coupe… that alone hikes the price over other years & models… many consider this car the ultimate icon of cool mid ’30’s American iron. In a scenario where time, money, space and desire are ample, this car could be very do-able. There would be a TON of work to make this car usable. The floors are, well, gone. Engine & trans gone. The fit of the hood is interesting. The pictures show the body & firewall to be work-able, but I’d have to see it in person. If I were looking for a ’36 coupe and didn’t have a truck load of cash for the initial purchase, this one might work. That, however, is not the case. I hope some one out there saves it.

    Like 1
  4. Johnmloghry Johnmloghry

    As a teenager around 1960 I had a 3 in one plastic model of a 36 Ford coupe. I really liked the style of these cars. Now all these years later here is this car with the same options: Hot rod, factory original, or imagination. Twenty years ago this would not have been to much for me, but now at 72 with my hands full and my wallet empty its out of the question.
    God bless America

    Like 7
    • geomechs geomechs Member

      That stirs up some memories. I had a plastic model kit of a ’36 Ford too. Strange that at 12 years old, I built it completely stock, even finding dark green paint for the engine. Woe is me today. That’s all I can afford anymore. But I’ll never say that retirement sucks. I’m busier than ever and can stop for coffee anytime…

      Like 4
  5. Woody

    This is a better project than the rust buckets in previous ads, and way cooler!

    Like 3
  6. Rustytech Rustytech Member

    Two words “Street Rod”.

    Like 5
  7. BigDoc

    Too much time but not enough money but I’d love to have it.

    Like 1
  8. TimM

    I know this won’t be popular but I got a done big block 396 sitting on an engine stand in my garage that would be perfect for this!! I’ve never put a Chevy motor in a ford!! But it would make it go pretty good I bet!!!

    Like 2
    • Ed P

      That will give it some zoom zoom.

      Like 1
    • geomechs geomechs Member

      Well, a 396 would make it go like Jack the Bear, but you would really be reinventing the wheel just to get it in that engine bay…

      Like 1
      • TimM

        I’m glad you told me that!! I never put a Chevy motor in a ford!! I’ve always tried to keep a ford a ford a Chevy a Chevy and a dodge a dodge!! But hearing this after all the posts I’ve read of yours I believe to be true!! Being I don’t have any ford small blocks sitting around I won’t bid!! A really cool body style nevertheless!! I would love to have it!! Oh btw happy retirement!!!

        Like 2
      • geomechs geomechs Member

        Thanks, Tim.

        Like 1
  9. Chris in Clover

    slightly ambitious project but very do-able for the right buyer.
    keep the mechanical brakes,
    when properly restored they are just as good as hydraulic and less trouble to maintain.

    Like 1
    • geomechs geomechs Member

      Completely agree with you. I’ve seen mechanicals lock the wheels. And if you lose a wheel, you still have half your brakes. I’ve got a friend who is a confirmed user just because of that…

      Like 2
  10. ctmphrs

    Good brakes don’t lock the wheels.No wonder you guys think mechanical brakes work.

    Like 0
    • John S

      The ability to “lock the wheels” doesn’t mean they always lock. It means that there is ample braking available to an accomplished driver… a.k.a. someone who knows what they are talking about, such as geomechs. The main problem with mechanical brakes is not the break system itself, but the mechanical ability (or lack thereof) of the person responsible for keeping them adjusted. They do, in fact, require more attention than hydraulics. But a “true mechanic” doesn’t mind the challenge.

      Like 1
  11. Wayne McCoy

    Realmc1951 in Chattanooga

    I am the new owner of the 1936 Coupe that is the subject of this article. I did not see the article until after I had already purchased the car but it would not have made any difference. Just to give an update I thought I would share my plans for the car. I like original so that is the direction I am headed. I have a friend who had an all original running and driving 1935 Cabriolet that he decided he wanted to street rod complete with new frame, motor, transmission, etc. I asked him if I could have all the “stuff “ that he did not use and he said yes. That is when I started my quest to find a body to help rescue with all the parts from my friend. I received the stuff last Thursday, saw the 1936 on EBay the same day, won the bid on Friday, and picked the car up on Saturday. I will be glad to post pictures if anyone is interested.

    Like 2
  12. Woody

    Congratulations Wayne sounds like perfect sense to invest time with this piece of history!

    Like 1

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